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Chiefs football: Even with loss at state game, team made it a turnaround season

by Rebecca Pettingill
Staff Writer | November 15, 2021 1:05 AM

The Moses Lake High School Chiefs lost 7-56 to the Gonzaga Preparatory School Bullpups in the first round of the WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) State Football competition Friday, ending the Chiefs’ season.

It was the first time the Chiefs made a state competition appearance since the 2017-18 season. In that year, the Chiefs also lost in the first round of the state competition to the Bullpups, 35-21.

Friday night’s game was heartbreaking for Moses Lake fans and players. There were a handful of uncharacteristic errors made during the game by the Chiefs, head coach Brett Jay said, which contributed to the big upset. Two plays in particular, one interception and one fumble, both of which resulted in touchdown runs by Gonzaga Prep, helped give Gonzaga Prep such a big lead over the Chiefs, he said.

The game started with Moses Lake receiving the kick. In their first four downs, the Chiefs only made it to the 50-yard line. Gonzaga Prep immediately pushed toward its end zone and was able to make the first touchdown of the night at seven minutes, one second left in the first quarter.

With the extra kick, Gonzaga Prep led 7-0. Moses Lake caught the kickoff and was able to get to the 39-yard line. In the next play, the Chiefs fumbled the ball and Gonzaga Prep was able to recover it and immediately made a touchdown. With six minutes, 43 seconds left on the clock, the Bullpups had a 14-0 lead over the Chiefs.

Moses Lake took the next possession to show Gonzaga Prep they were not giving up that easy. The Chiefs pushed from the 20-yard line all the way to the opposite 26-yard line. On its fourth down at the 26, Moses Lake only made it to the 23-yard line, resulting in the possession being turned over to the Bullpups. Gonzaga Prep used this time to immediately score another touchdown and end the first quarter ahead 21-0.

In the second quarter, Moses Lake saw the end zone. At nine minutes, 42 seconds left, a 20-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Kyson Thomas from junior quarterback Brock Clark got the Chiefs on the scoreboard. The celebration was short-lived, with an immediate touchdown by the Bullpups only 13 seconds later. Before the end of the second quarter, Gonzaga Prep made two more touchdowns and the Chiefs were unable to find their way to the end zone. At the half, the Bullpups were leading 42-7 over the Chiefs.

The Chiefs worked hard and held the Bullpups back for the first half of the third quarter. However, Gonzaga Prep pushed through and was at the 1-yard line at seven minutes, 54 seconds left. Another touchdown for the Bullpups.

Moses Lake held them back the rest of the quarter but did not quite break through the line, either. Sophomore Hayden Throneberry tackled a Gonzaga Prep player at the 10-yard line in the last seconds of the quarter. Third quarter ended with Moses Lake still at 7 and Gonzaga Prep at 49.

Starting the fourth quarter at the 10-yard line, the Bullpups immediately made a touchdown. The Chiefs held them back, but couldn’t recover. That was the last time either team saw the endzone, Bullpups taking the game 56-7. The Bullpups will face Lake Stevens High School on Saturday in the state quarterfinals.

“I just can’t tell you how proud of this group I am, to start out 0-2 and become league champs. There was a lot of adversity, a lot of stories in between there to get to this point and we just stuck together,” Jay said right after the game.

He also gave credit to the seniors on the team for laying the foundation and to the underclassmen who followed the seniors’ lead.

Despite the tough loss, this year’s team made a complete turnaround from the last few seasons. In the 2020-21 season, the team was 2-3; in the 2019-20 season it was 0-10, and this year it was undefeated in the league and 7-3 overall before the loss to Gonzaga Prep.

“I feel like we accomplished something for later years to come. I feel like we left it all out there and we showed our underclassmen what it takes to perform at a stage like this,” senior Sergio Guzman said.

“It was obviously a great year,” Moses Lake High School athletic director Loren Sandhop said. “Transitioning coaching staff, coming off of COVID-19, not really knowing how many kids were going to turn out. Anytime you have a transition, it’s always exciting, but you have to learn a lot of new things and we had a lot to learn early and we progressed a lot this season. It was fun to watch them grow and being able to make it to the state playoffs is an accomplishment in itself.”

Senior Saul Villa said the team’s mantra all season was winning is an attitude and made all the difference in reference to the turnaround this season.

“I think we were just tired of losing,” Guzman added.

Some of the top overall stats for the season include:

• 67.5 tackles for senior Jordan Nelson.

• Junior Walker Widdis had a 91-yard interception.

• Junior Tell Rathbun had 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

• Senior Marcus Duvall both had 5.5 sacks and eight hurries.

• Junior Brock Clark had a 64% passing completion rate for 1,954 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 78 rushing attempts for 218 yards and eight touchdowns.

• Senior Sergio Guzman had 165 rushing attempts for 915 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 34 receptions for 298 yards and four touchdowns.

• Senior Asher Lindgren had 42 receptions for 594 yards and 2 touchdowns.

• Sophomore Kyson Thomas had 44 receptions for 568 yards and six touchdowns.

• Sophomore Hayden Throneberry had 19 receptions for 328 yards and four touchdowns.

Box Score:

Moses Lake - 0 7 0 0 - 7

Gonzaga Prep - 21 21 7 7 - 56

photo

Rebecca Pettingill/Columbia Basin Herald

Moses Lake head football coach Brett Jay hugged most, if not every one, of his players after the state game on Friday.

photo

Rebecca Pettingill/Columbia Basin Herald

A Gonzaga Preparatory School player heads into the endzone for a touchdown as Moses Lake players try to stop him at Friday’s game.